Dolittle? Too Little.

Dr. Dolittle is directed by Stephan Gaghan and stars Robert Downy Jr as Dr. Dolittle. The movie was a flop with an $18 million loss in the box office.

So often what makes or breaks a film is the tone.  Is it frenetic action like any Marvel movie. Is it heartfelt and nostalgic, the tone in Dr. Doolittle is wacky at all costs, at the expense of any heart or character development. There are at least a half dozen places in the film where it desperately needed to slow down for a moment and have a scene of maybe 2 minutes where the audience can see a relationship develop, where we can see heartache or longing or sense of loss, where we can see friendship or regret. Where we could have a reason to care.

It should have been largely about Dolittle rediscovering his own gifts by seeing his young protege begin to see that he, too, may possess the ability to speak to animals.  Yet that key plot point is never explored. They sail the seas and explore exotic islands and lands as mere strangers, and fail to explore where this story could have taken us.  We are pulled in one plot direction, while we feel ourselves breathe and turn our heads almost in slow motion, and faintly look off to the side to imagine what wonders, joy, and discovery may be found over there.  We can only wish and wonder.

The film gets off to a cold, brisk start.  Dolittle and his menagerie are off and gone on their adventure in mere seconds with no feelings of leaving a home where they are safe and secure.  No goodbyes to his animal sidekick Wacky. Even the ending is rushed through when there could have and should have been a couple of minutes of Doolittle speaking to his past, asking what he should do next after all the adventures he has had.  Then it could show us what happens next. Instead, they tell us. We get a quick 10 second voice over and it’s here and gone. The tone was wrong from the beginning and left us with too little.